The privileged eyes of mine and aplenty out there endured COVID-19 and the wrath it caused but by no means were we able to fathom the several other horrors it presented for the migrants, especially. We saw it, we read about it but we weren't able to actually feel it. Director Anubhav Sinha wants us to feel that with his latest film, Bheed opting for a monochrome view.
However, in trademark Sinha style, that isn't the only thing he shows where he stuffs the film with a truckload of other issues ranging from class divide to caste discrimination and social commentary in general. Having had a re-birth with films like Mulk, Article 15 and Thappad but missing the spot with Anek, does Bheed once again make a mark like the former names? Having had the chance to see the film beforehand, here is what I thought about it-
Migrants - The Trials & Tribulations
One of the most horrific stories that we would read about back when we were leisurely sitting on our couch during the COVID-19 lockdown was how lakhs and lakhs of migrants, who were leaving big cities to go home were stopped owing to national orders. This led to instances that were gut-wrenching to even read or see on television about. With Bheed, Sinha takes on the journey of these migrants and tries to give us a deeper look into how it actually was.
The film has a fantastic opening sequence of one news piece about 14-15 people being run over by a train while they were sleeping on the rail tracks thinking that owing to all transport being shut, there would be no trains. That scene sets you in and gives an impression that it is going to be a difficult but essential watch ahead for you, the viewer.
Just Scratching The Surface
But that opening scene is about the maximum amount of promise that you will get as the film goes on. What is supposed to be a gruesome yet important, a devastating yet necessary look into the unfathomable cases that migrants faced in their journey back home ends up only doing that at base level. Owing to the film having a protagonist in Rajkummar Rao, the film becomes a journey about his past of facing cast discrimination and him being the savior of these migrants. It wouldn't entirely have been a problem if there was enough snippets of screenplay that served to his saga and at the same time became a deep dive into the migrants' stories - but that doesn't happen. In the first 30-40 minutes, it feels like a good build-up with parallel storylines but as soon as the common ground becomes one checkpoint where everybody gathers, the essence is lost.
Irrelevant Scenes with Signature Anubhav Sinha
Being his signature self, director Anubhav Singha stuffs Bheed with flickers in the form of moments that address caste discrimination, islamophobia, commentary on naxalites, corruption, politics etc. And fortunately, these flickers are enough to give you an idea of what human behavior actually is even in the worst times. The scene between Dia Mirza and her driver Kanhaiya towards the end is one of the most moving ones talking about humanity above everything else.
However, the film suffers with a huge problem and that is having irrelevant sequences and plot points. Not only does the love story of Rajkummar Rao and Bhumi Pednekar feel unnecessary to the plot but their makeout scene followed by a lovemaking scene seems absolutely pointless in the screenplay. Even in the end, while the film doesn't need a climax but several questions remain unanswered thus making you feel it is undercooked.
One of the biggest plus points that even led me to give it an extra half star in my rating is undoubtedly the performances. Sinha has assembled some of the finest actors you can think of ranging from Rao, Pednekar and Kritika Kamra to Pankaj Kapur, Ashutosh Rana, Dia Mirza and others. The entire ensemble understood the assignment and give their best thus keeping you invested even when the plot and staging seems lacklustre. Seeing a veteran like Kapur being one of the central faces in Bheed and having him go toe-to-toe with the talent that is Rao made for riveting scenes. Even an actor like Aaditya Shrivastav gets so much to do and excels in his part.
Bheed tries to achieve a lot - a problem that director Anubhav Sinha faced in Anek as well. In an attempt to make you feel the reality of the tough times of COVID-19 and the people who actually suffered the most, it leaves you wondering as to why did the topic deviate towards only one man and the actual trials and tribulations took a backseat. The stellar ensemble cast and a few brilliant scenes still give you a lot to love though.
Rating - *** (3/5)